Written by MentalAndBookmarked
Was it a success? Well no, of course not. We didn’t get him. Southampton, by shopping the club into the FA for tapping up Virgil Van Dijk, stopped us in our tracks while we were stage managing the machinations of purchasing the lofty Dutch defender.
Southampton dropped us in the shit and thereby took back control of a situation that had been entirely outside their control up to that point as we primed the press as often as humanly possible with multiple accounts of rapid progress on making Anfield the only possible destination for the Dutch defender.
Traditionally, the lesser team caves under the onslaught and momentum created and is led to the lawyers’ table to pen the deal that has been concluded in all but name in the press. The smaller team is unceremoniously stripped of a valuable asset but given a decent sized sack of gold to drown their sorrows and tend to their wounds.
Of course that didn’t happen. Southampton reported liverpool football club to the FA for tapping up and prevented the script from playing out. Liverpool’s statement may have been a climb down, an embarrassment, a desperate attempt to avoid further censure from an FA that has been gleefully banning PL clubs from youth recruitment in recent times. You must decide for yourself of its significance but the reality like it or not is it means very little. Nothing was admitted to, no loss or damage, it was simply a balm used to sooth an inflammation even if it appeared to put an end to the chase for a fine and expensive but not totally proven defender.
Of course yesterday’s news and indeed the statement are little more than today’s fish and chip paper – and FSG know this. No one of any significance cares. If it suits both parties (and the player) the clubs will resume negotiations perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in a few weeks (perhaps never!). It’s business, if you took it personally then you’re in the wrong game. It’s not personal, it’s just business.
But while the public nature of the discourse was almost certain to have offended the Saints’ sensibilities, the truth is Southampton don’t really care about tapping up. They did it themselves in their chase for Van Dijk two years ago when Celtic threatened to sue them. They have just been called out by Porto for tapping up Iker Casillas. Tapping up is a tool of the trade that they use as exhaustively as anyone else. Why the FA tolerate the hypocrisy is well, just typical of the FA.
Southampton just wanted to get some semblance of control on the situation. And herein lies the nub of the matter. Liverpool’s recruitment team under Michael Edwards and the PR team took total control of the path of this venture. Having had their approaches spurned earlier in the spring Liverpool sought to create a fait accomplit for acquiring the defender before even approaching the impressively over achieving South Coast club to formalise the purchase.
They courted Van Dijk to the extent that he remarkably and publicly was said to have declared loyalty to the Klopp revolution over and above that of either Pep Guardiola at Manchester City or title winning Antonio Conte at Chelsea despite being 1 year into a 6 year contract with his South Coast employers.
There were continuous and coordinated briefings to the friendly press by the Anfield outfit creating a momentum that was both spectacular and seemingly impossible to stop. To carry the affair this far and kick the oil rich Citeh and Chelsea clubs into touch in the process BEFORE they had even spoken to Southampton is both fiendishly brilliant if Machiavellian and impressively determined especially when it would require the club to smash its transfer record and indeed the world record transfer fee for a defender rather than the low and mid cost signings the fan-base has become more accustomed to over recent years as the club tried endlessly to curtail recent annual losses.
Of course it didn’t work out, not yet at any rate. And perhaps the decision to feed the press with all and every detail of progress was unwise and the cause of the ultimate failure – and it remains unclear if that was the strategy of Michael Edwards or the PR team attempting to copy the machinations in the press so common to giants of the game such as Real Madrid or Barcelona.
Perhaps similarly machiavellian manouverings that kept the story out of the press wouldn’t have pushed the South Coast club into lodging its complaint to the FA. and we’d be enjoying a more fruitful if expensive outcome right now.
Nevertheless it cannot be denied that the recruitment team attempted an impressive strategy that very nearly led to a masterful coup in a notoriously difficult transfer market – and might do so yet.
So, was the recruitment team seriously smart or seriously dumb? Plant your flag dear reader, with the North or with the South, the judgement is yours to make. Fumers should take a pause for the cause.